Page 169 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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LIPTZIN / YIDDISH LITERATURE IN ISRAEL
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Wolpe published a comprehensive literary biography entitled
Abraham Sutzkever Iber Zein Lidervelt,
a study which analyzed
Sutzkever’s personality since Siberian childhood as reflected in
his poetry. Sutzkever’s most recent poems deal not only with
Israeli scenes and themes but also with cosmic phenomena. He
seeks God and is enraptured by nature. Though a master of
traditional Yiddish verse-structures, he still experiments with
sophisticated, modernistic innovations.
In contrast to the ultra-sophisticated poetry of Sutzkever,
there appeared between 1983 and 1986 under the auspices of
the Hebrew University a four-volume
Anthology of Yiddish
Folksongs,
with Hebrew and English translations. The collection
was compiled by Ahron Vinkovetsky in Leningrad and brought
to Israel when he came on Aliya. These folksongs of many cen­
turies, enriched by archival sources available in Jerusalem, and
edited by Vinkovetsky, Abba Kovner and Sinai Leichter, mirror
the moods of the common man rather than of the educated
elite. Simple in diction and in structure, they reveal not only
great sensitivity to moral values and adherence to traditional
ways, but also a keen awareness of upsurging new movements.
There is a rich assortment of lullabies and children’s songs. The
love songs of earlier generations reflect hopeful dreams, youth­
ful joy, timid longings, but also frustrations due to parental
choice of a mate. Included are religious songs that were dis­
seminated by cantors, hasidic songs that spread from the courts
of the Rebbes, wedding songs popularized by Badchonim, sad
songs of Jewish soldiers drafted into the Czarist army, songs
of poverty, toil and oppression, more recent songs that arose
in ghettos among resistance groups during the Holocaust, and
songs of Halutzim and of refugees homeward bound to Zion.
Since the Six-Day War, Israel has emerged as the strongest
center of Yiddish. The hegemony over Yiddish literature wield­
ed in the early decades of the present century by Eastern Eu­
ropean centers, such as Warsaw, Vilna and Kiev, and in the
mid-century decades by New York, shifted in the closing dec­
ades of the century to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. While Hebrew
is flourishing as the national language of the Jewish State, Yid­
dish still continues a creative existence there, dispensing literary
treasures to the Jewish communities of the Diaspora in which
this language struggles for survival.